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The Power of Listening


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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements 1. A Call to Listen 2. Listening to the Unspoken 3. Listening within the Congregation 4. Listening for Mission 5. Listening in Consensus and Discernment 6. Listening to God Together through Scripture 7. Listening to God Together Through Spiritual Practices 8. The Listening Toolbox 9. Anxiety and Listening 10. Humility and Listening 11. Listening, Receptivity and Speaking Up For Further Reading

About the Author

Lynne M. Baab (M.Div., Ph.D. in communication) is a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) minister, lecturer in pastoral theology and author of numerous books about congregational life and Christian spiritual practices, including Fasting, Sabbath Keeping and Joy Together: Spiritual Practices for Your Congregation. Visit her website at


I appreciate the book's accessible and tangible tone. It is clear and concise, and it includes truths that encourage pause and reflection. It reads like a book that was written by someone who listens well...The Power of Listening will be a valuable introductory resource about how spiritual direction works. It would be helpful for people who have not worked with a spiritual director before and for preparing people who are training to become spiritual directions. Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction [This book] is a generous offering of ideas, encouragements, and insights on how to bring authenticity to the journey of faith and engage the presence of God both collectively and alone. The final chapters of this book are grounded in practical suggestions, guidance, and winsome advice for those wanting to improve their listening skills and discover fresh approaches to difficult spaces. This would be a welcome resource for pastoral workers, church leaders and congregants alike...For those involved in any form of pastoral work as well as those managing and leading people, this book has something timely to say. Stimulus: The New Zealand Journal of Christian Thought and Practice 'Listen carefully; speak gently.' These words of advice are Rev Dr Lynne Baab's gift to her readers as she guides us through a comprehensive examination of the power of listening in human relationships and faith communities. Baab...introduces her findings from over sixty in-depth interviews in a blend of academic insights and practical theology, and offers suggestions as to how we can more effectively listen to each other and to God. The usual applications of listening skills to effective pastoral care and thoughtful Bible study are covered well, but Baab takes us deeper by examining how listening contributes to effective mission and ministry...Baab makes a realistic assessment of the impact of culture and technology on efforts to communicate in today's society, and offers thorough and practical explanation of ways listening enhances relationships with God and others...Chapter 8, 'The Listening Toolbox' is a succinct and evocative guide that could well be published separately as a useful parish training resource...Her academic background in communication studies comes through clearly, but not in an intimidating way; the whole book is very inviting and readable...The questions at the end of each chapter are designed for individuals rather than groups; they range 'deep and wide' and offer valuable reflection points for a workshop or retreat. Adapting them for group study would be an excellent way to plumb further depths of this material...I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to a wide audience; certainly one for the church library. God Shaped Life I'm glad my friend and former pastor Lynne Baab's latest book The Power of Listening: Building Skills for Mission and Ministry focuses as much on listening to God as it does on listening to congregations and communities. Lynne builds the case for why listening matters, patiently explains how to listen better, and gives examples of what happens in churches when we do. She weaves narratives about listening to human voices and listening to the Divine voice together seamlessly. I know that Lynne practices both kinds of listening expertly in her own life, and that wisdom comes through on every page...[F]or the listening skills I have yet to acquire, I now have The Power of Listening to guide me. Confessions of a Human Mom I jumped on the opportunity to read Lynne Baab's The Power of Listening...She has a distinctive style. It is chatty and accessible. It is practical and realistic. It is collaborative with much of what she writes being generated by what she hears from others. It is transparent as she lives in her own vulnerabilities without wallowing there. Plus there is an authenticity here, as Lynne has worked at becoming a good listener herself. I've benefited from this. The focus in the book tends to be on congregations and communities, with the first half of the book making its way around the power of listening in this setting: 'healthy congregations are composed of people who listen well (ix).' It is all good stuff, as each chapter concludes with a list of questions for discussion - and then each list concludes with an encouragement to 'pay a compliment' to someone. A nice touch. The Art of Unpacking My pastor/seminary professor/author friend in New Zealand, Dr. Lynne Baab's new book is all about The Power of Listening - something I need. I was especially grateful it includes a section on how to listen to God through spiritual practices. And the 'Toolbox' which gives practical application and explanation of listening styles and opportunities, is simply invaluable for any of us in ministry, or in life for that matter. Encouraging Words Scripture calls us to "Listen," and The Power of Listening: Building Skills for Mission and Ministry shows us how it's possible to follow that call. In this inspiring and practical book, Lynne Baab weaves together wisdom from her years as a pastor, scholar of communication, and daily follower of Jesus, with interviews of people around the world who are committed to listening to God and neighbor. A helpful guide to listening for churches and all people in them, this book is a powerful and much-needed aid to spiritual growth. -- Susan S. Phillips, Executive Director and Professor of Sociology and Christian Studies, New College Berkeley, Graduate Theological Union This remarkable book provides a wide array of tools and practices to nurture spiritual growth through understanding the powerful role of listening - personally, professionally, and in community. The concepts of holy listening, holy curiosity and receptivity spark understanding, the stories inspire, and the provocative questions hit the mark. It is a must read for anyone who yearns to participate in and facilitate an environment for transformation. -- Kay Lindahl, CLP, Founder, The Listening Center, Author of The Sacred Art of Listening In a world oversaturated with 'express yourself!' Lynne Baab has given us a cup of cool water on the art, science, and theology of listening! -- Corey Schlosser-Hall Ph.D, Executive Presbyter, North Puget Sound Presbytery

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